New Article by Neil Saviano: SalesPeople-Meet Your Virtual Sales Assistant
February 20, 2011
Sales people out there amidst almost unparalleled levels of competition need to be cognizant of choosing their co-workers more wisely! Co-workers here, from a metaphorical perspective, relate to the role technology plays as a virtual sales assistant.
Sales people must work closely with their virtual assistant to manage, and take action on, the plethora of information available. They must do this within their sales process to address the following key strategic areas: The penetration and retention of existing customers; the development of new customers. They must also call on their virtual assistant to help manage all activities within their sales process.
The technology (assistant) refers to a software suite that comprises a company’s ERP system together with business intelligence and CRM and sales force automation software.
Looking at the key strategic areas mentioned above, let’s begin with the impact the virtual assistant has on customer penetration and retention:
Sales history from an ERP system provides information that tells the sales person a customer-by-customer story. This revolves around where they have been with a customer (past sales), where they are now (current sales), and where they would like to go (future sales) based on a calculation of annual sales potential. When this information is integrated with a CRM program, the capacity is there to classify customers based on their buying status and put them into customer segments for effective targeting strategies.
The virtual assistant plays a major role as the sales force automation component enters the mix to take action on selected customers with tactics such as: email marketing campaigns and powerful automated work flow. This entails a series of automated timed tasks such as, emails and scheduled activities. This is truly a “take action” strategy; hard to “pull off” without an assistant! This is especially true for top salespeople whose skills have helped to acquire many customers – customers who often present service issues that pull them away from the tactics needed to build and retain business ongoing.
The development of new customers:
This key strategic area can really tax a virtual sales assistant! New customer development is very reliant on consistent touching of prospects at timed intervals. Consistency of touching provides favorable conversion ratios and obviously more new customers. Automated workflow prevails here, as a key set of tactics within a prospecting process also includes automated tasks such as emails and scheduled activities. In fact, within the work flow the virtual sales assistant can literally command the sales person to perform essential manual activities like, “send a note”, or “send a postcard”!!
Since most sales people’s income comes from commissions, they are in essence running a business within a business. This structure prevails upon a sales person to maximize the return from every hour they are selling. In fact, it’s estimated that the median number of selling hours a sales person has annually is around 1000. The virtual assistant helps to assure each hour is maximized by providing the information needed to make sound strategic customer and prospect decisions. Not to mention almost taking over the all important consistent activities (touching) of customer and prospects to produce the ratios needed for success.
A key technology component of the virtual sales person’s suite is sales force automation. The vast amounts of information and analytics are obviously essential, but “taking action” on this information and driving campaigns and work flow is where it all happens. Company’s need to look at their technology mix and make sure their sales people have the help they need for success. Sales people need to take the technology mix, introduce themselves to their virtual sales assistant, and begin a relationship that converts to more business and more income.